How to Jump Start Your First Graduate Job Search

A man fixing his necktie while looking away.

Flickr user Alex France

After slugging your way through the endless drudgery of academia, you have finally arrived. You are a graduate with a diploma, eager to begin your career. While the economy has been improving over the last few years, the job market for educated yet inexperienced graduates is tough. Many people find themselves overwhelmed by the effort that they must put into finding a job. Isn’t that why you went to college in the first place? Unfortunately, a college degree is no longer a guaranteed ticket to a good job right out of school. The good news is that there are some great ways to help you get started in your job search after you graduate.

Define Your Goals

You don’t just want any job; you want the right job for you. You’ve chosen a career path that interested and excited you, and you have the enthusiasm of your recent academic victory to propel you forward. But forward to what? Are you looking for a high-energy environment that has you working face-to-face with clients? Or are you someone who prefers to methodically research and prepare reports with minimal interruption? A key to finding work that will keep you engaged and motivated is making sure that the skills needed are the right fit for your personality and working style.

Rethink Your Resume

Today’s recruiters use the data-mining process to search for keywords. Do a bit of research on the prime keywords that recruiters for your field are looking for, and you can tailor your resume to them. Upload your resume to industry-specific sites, not just Career-Builder or LinkedIn, though you won’t want to skip those either. This will help people who are looking for your kind of talent to find it. This doesn’t mean that you should completely forego submitting your resume to targeted employers, but it can help get it in front of people that you might not otherwise consider sending it to, increasing your possibilities for calls.

Continue to Build Your Portfolio

You haven’t found a job yet, so you aren’t making any money. Spend some time volunteering your skills for a non-profit. It’s a great way to put your skills to use and prove your abilities, as well as adding some experience to your resume. It may also help you build some connections in your field, and can help to keep you focused and motivated while job-hunting.

Join Professional Groups

One of the easiest ways to help build your network and to stay up to date with current industry trends is to join a professional organization. There are usually local, national, and online organizations for most fields. Attend events, conferences, meet-and-greets, and participate in online discussions. This is a great way to build name recognition, and you can add your professional memberships to your resume as well. These groups often have employment boards on their websites that can help you find jobs that you are qualified for that you might not find through your normal searching.

Stay in Touch

Be proactive in following up with your contacts and potential employers. Make sure you are reaching out every 6 to 8 weeks. Send a link to a relevant article with “I thought you might find this interesting” in your subject to networking contacts. Let them know that you are thinking of them. If you’re trying to stay in touch with a potential employer, let them know that you are still looking. Even if you were rejected for the job, it may have been something as simple as another candidate was a slightly better fit. It doesn’t mean that you weren’t considered, and letting them know that you are still interested in their company may be the thing that gets you a call the next time they have a position open.

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